Getting better gifts at SFD

sfdThanks to Freeflying, I have been involved with Software Freedom Day since August 2007. We, at the Beijing LUG organized the Beijing chapter that year, with the support of COPU, were one of the 2007 winners and I started to get involved with the great organization behind SFD. In 2008, I (and the Beijing LUG) took care and shipped all the goodies for the first 300 registered teams, and co-organized 3 events in China. This year I’ve been promoted Vice President of SFi and as such, can’t hide as being just another volunteer (though I am just ‘another volunteer’). So in order to give better support to all the teams out there making SFD happen every year, we’d like to know what kind of goodies we can send out that will help you to make a better event. Of course, we’re running on a limited budget (10,000 T-shirts won’t make it really) but it’d be really nice to get a global brainstorming going and see how SFI can provide better support. You can either get back to me by commenting on this blog or by emailing our mailing list. Looking forward to hear from everyone!

Linux is not good for you…

A friend of mine was telling me how she went to buy a new computer, asked to have Linux on it, and was told “Linux is not good for you at home” and that she shouldn’t worry, they’ll just install her Windows XP and all the things she really needs, “for free”. Yes this happened in China, but it probably already happened elsewhere.

Don’t worry she’ll install Linux all by herself I am sure, the real problem is no longer that consumers are not aware nor ready for Linux, sales persons are not! It’s probably harder for them to get familiar with Linux and make an effort to learn something that’s good for their customers rather than launching Norton Ghost, partitioning the disk into Nx20GiB partitions (that’s how they prepare PCs here…) and copying all the virus, spyware and malware infected bootleg versions of Windows they’ve been distributing for ages.

This friend of mine is no tech person, just uses a computer and I guess, has been hearing about Open Source, Linux and Software Freedom. So it’s nice to see that our efforts are paying off. Now how can we reach those stores in China (and elsewhere) and get them to become familiar with Linux installs, and… why not… even do Linux promotion?

A weekend with Matt MacKall

Once in a while you meet these rare individuals who remind you where you’re coming from. Following the Linux Developer Symposium a few speakers stayed a couple of more days to visit the Great Wall, the Forbidden city and other Beijing Landmarks. I helped organized a visit into a training center for embedded Linux on Friday together with Matt and this is how it all started.

I’d say Matt is a very reserved individual at first, very serious and focused (that’s just my impression). The Friday morning visit gave me a chance to listen more closely to his presentation to a class of 50-60 Chinese students and exchange ideas about attracting more people to Linux. I would honestly say that the whole trip was very successful, the class had Jonathan Corbet book on every single desk (Jonathan was also a speaker at the conference) and Matt motivated every one of us. Afternoon was free and we met again for dinner.

The next day, Matt being into art (something I discovered), we visited 798 factory and discussed about art, Burning Man ,how Matt has been attending the event for the last 8 years, what kind of technology he uses for his art and all sorts of things. Then a bit of food shopping, famous Chinese Hot Pot, more talks between during and after, and off to bed.

Matt happens to be a vegan as well as a Linux user and contributor (and an artist, and probably many other things). Why? Because he cares. In fact the whole 2 days discussion was about caring, and how you can transform your principles into actions, how you live up to your believes and how even small contributions can make a difference.

As I mentioned in my introduction I was really glad to have these talks, re-energize myself with someone who could explain himself with passion about what he believed in and would take the time to share his views without forcing them on me.

We all believe in something, but what do we do about it? And is it enough to make that difference we were talking about? I often ask myself this question…